Katy, Eli & Nina Ponder the Always-Popular Back-To-School Q: How do I pack the perfect school lunch?!

When September comes around, I still think about school lunches. Even though it’s been many years since I packed one for my two kids (who now have kids of their own!) all that time pondering the perfect lunch left a big impression on me! 

Back then, I was a working mom with a fledgling business, trying to figure everything out, including how to pack a healthy lunch that Eli and Nina would actually eat. Talking to many parents these days, they’re asking the same questions I did, “What in the world can I pack that will not come back to me later today?” I can’t tell you how many times I opened my kids’ backpacks after school, and there were wrappers and other remnants of not-so-healthy foods in their lunchboxes. (THEY TRADED!!) Or the entire lunch I packed was untouched.

So, I figured I’d get my kids’ perspectives on their lunches growing up, now that they’re parents themselves. Eli, Nina, chime in, please!


When I was a kid, I was always the one with the “weird” lunch at school. Back in the ‘80s, no one had energy bars or organic food in their lunchbox. No one except me, my sister, and a couple of other “super-odd” kids with hippie parents (Love you, mom!). Here are just a few examples:   

  • I’m pretty sure I had the first protein bar on planet Earth, the PowerBar, which was nearly inedible. It was solid as a rock and tasted like chalk.
  • I remember a product called a “Nectar Nugget” which was basically a knockoff Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (This was before Justin’s existed, which everyone loves now.) 
  • I had the first Pirate’s Booty, Snapple Iced Tea, and dozens of other “out there” products (for back then) that are completely mainstream today.  

At lunch, a few kids wanted to trade with me, mostly out of curiosity because my food was different. So I was able to outsmart my mom who thought I was eating all-organic but was really trading for junk food (please don’t tell her). So if you thought I ONLY eat super healthy food, this proves I did eat some junk food back in my rebellious youth.   


My childhood lunchbox was full of “strange” items that none of my friends recognized. My brother and I often joke about how kids would rarely trade lunches with us. Back then, there were no “healthy versions” of popular foods. Even though my mom told me repeatedly that fruit leathers were “the same as Fruit Roll-Ups” we all know they just didn’t quite hold a candle.  

But that was then … this is now! As an adult and mom, I’m so grateful for the healthy food I was fed as a child. I’m also thankful that our store now sells hundreds of amazing products that my kids are actually excited to put in their lunchboxes—and share with their friends.  


Thank you, kids, for your brutal honesty. Although, Nina, we’ll have to agree to disagree about fruit leathers! But seriously, it brings me so much joy to hear that you now appreciate the “weird and strange stuff” I put in your lunchboxes back then. This is why I started Healthy Living to begin with: to pass on this love of high-quality, good food to future generations. 

So what’s the perfect school lunch? There’s no right answer because it’s unique to every family. And that’s what makes it “perfect.” It’s your special way of sending your kids off to school with a little bit of your own personality, your values, and, of course, tons of love! 



Teal’s Lunchbox: Age 7

Veggie or Salmon Avocado Sushi from Shizen

Cucumbers with Hummus

Mixed Berries like these organic blackberries

Niman Ranch Salami and Cheese Snack Pack

Made Good Mixed Berry Granola Bar

Bjorn Qorn Popcorn

Van’s Lunchbox: Age 4

Back to Nature Round Crackers 

Annies Cheddar Bunnies 

Apple (like this Honeycrisp variety)

Baby Carrots or Carrot Stick

Natierra freeze-dried strawberries or blueberries

Cabot Pre-Sliced Sharp Cheddar Cheese or a few slices of Horizon American Cheese

Field Day Snack Bar


Wes’s Lunchbox: Age 9

Salmon Avocado Sushi from Shizen

Field Day Organic Mini Pretzels


Red Pepper


Vermont Smoke & Cure Meat Stick

Organic Valley Cheese Stick

Bear Fruit Snack

Beau’s Lunchbox: Age 5


Baby Carrots



Field Day Organic Mini Pretzels

Field Day Crackers

Cabot Pre-Sliced Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar

Bear Fruit Snack

Ace’s Lunchbox: Age 0

Happy Baby Teether Puffs

Bottle of Milk

Peter Rabbit Fruit Pouch Puree